DEC gives Belleayre Mountain another 270 acres
By Jay Braman Jr.
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has determined how it will divide up the 1,200 acres it bought from the developers of the proposed Belleayre Resort for $5.6 million.
After the 2011 purchase, the state needed to classify those lands and has spent the last two years deciding how the property will be used. On March 12 it was announced that the process was complete.
Six hundred and thirty acres are being classified “wild forest.” A draft plan revealed last year had proposed to classify some of these lands as wilderness, a more restrictive designation. But following public comment on the plan it was decided that a wild forest classification will allow several existing wood roads in that area to accommodate recreational activities such as bicycling. In addition, the wild forest classification will allow the development and grooming of improved cross-country ski trails on the property in close proximity to the Belleayre Mountain Ski Center. Grooming will be limited to the use of a snowmobile with a drag.
About 300 acres in Lost Clove, including the Lost Clove Trail, will be classified as wilderness and added to the Big Indian Wilderness Area. This classification, DEC says, will protect important natural resources and the character of these lands, while providing non-motorized or mechanized recreational use such as hiking and hunting.
DEC has also declared a 270-acre property that directly adjoins the Belleayre Mountain Ski Center will be intensive use property, just the same as the ski center.
According to the plan released last week, the terrain and proximity to existing trails on Belleayre Mountain, as well as the Ulster & Delaware Rail line suggest this portion of the property could accommodate additional trail development that would complement the existing ski trail network.
“For example, the current parking lot and infrastructure at the adjoining Pine Hill Lake Day Use Area could provide parking for a trail system that could be expanded from the day use area to Belleayre Mountain,” the plan states. “To allow for consideration of groomed cross-country ski trails, as well as a possible alpine (downhill) ski trail connection with the hamlet of Pine Hill, and because the terrain in the area can accommodate this additional trail development, this portion of the newly acquired property will be classified Intensive Use and added to the Belleayre Mountain Ski Center. But specific plans for the 270 acres are still unclear. DEC spokesperson Wendy Rosenbach said actual trail layout would be considered through an amendment to the Belleayre Mountain Ski Center Unit Management Plan (UMP).
“The Draft UMP has not been finalized at this time, so proposals under the UMP are still under review,” she said.